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commUNITY spotlight: National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Project Mona's House kicked off the new "Amplify" series to present the stories of human trafficking survivors and awareness advocates.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Project Mona's House started a new "Amplify" series to give people a better understanding of human trafficking.

Kelly Diane Galloway, founder of Project Mona's House, said, "I believe that those who have lived through it need to be at the forefront of these conversations. Far too often.

"I hear so many people that have worked with human trafficking victims, and while our perspective is indeed very vital, I think that we need to hear from those who live through it, and hear them tell us what is it that we should do to be helping individuals who are part of the modern day enslavement."

While prostitution is fully criminalized, Melanie Thompson, a sex trafficking survivor and anti-sex trafficking advocate said, "all sides of the debate when it comes to the issue of prostitution and human trafficking agree that criminalization is not an effective approach."

Before the New York State Senate is the Equality Model.

"What the equality model seeks to do is to fully decriminalize the person that is engaging in prostitution. For example: the human trafficking victim, the one kidnapped, the one most vulnerable, but keep the current penalties that we have in the state in place for those who perpetuate it that would be sex buyers, pimps, traffickers, brothel owners," Thompson said. 

Some people, according to Galloway, "want to legalize prostitution fully, fully decriminalized the sex trade, and there are individuals who are advocates, overcomer advocates saying, no, we want partial decriminalization."

Galloway said people should understand "there are actually pathways that lead to being a victim of human trafficking. It's not just a white van that people are so scared of."

But she said "there are actually systems that are in place that make the vulnerable population more vulnerable and there is actually something that we can do to make vulnerable populations less vulnerable."

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